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American manufacturing is making a comeback. Just yesterday, Walmart announced a plan to buy $50 billion more American-made products over the next 10 years. But most of us still see “Made in China” or “Made in Indonesia” a lot more often than we see “Made in the USA.” So U.S. manufacturing’s official cheerleader, the Alliance for American Manufacturing, decided to lead by example.
AAM moved into its new offices at 711 D St. NW in November, and conducted an experiment: Could the company furnish the space with only American-made products?
The short answer is no. There were certain things—-electronics, mostly—-that simply couldn’t be found from American producers. But for the most part, AAM has succeeded in its mission, and its office is something of a showcase of American manufacturing.
“The point of this office is to show it’s a lot easier than you think,” says AAM executive director Scott Paul.
Our tour began in one of the small offices, where Paul showed off a desk from Washington state. But things took a turn downhill from there, when we got to the products on the desk.
“You can’t find phones, video display terminals,” says Paul. “I mean, none of that is American-made.” Paul couldn’t find American-made computers, either, though that may change following Apple’s announcement that it plans to make some Macs in the United States.
In the kitchen, most of the appliances were American-made, from the Whirlpool fridge to the Uline trash and recycling bins. The longest search was for an ADA-compliant dishwasher, which ended up being a Bosch model (a German company, but American-made) that appears to be several hundred dollars more expensive than some of the foreign-made competition. The one thing AAM couldn’t find was a coffee maker. “Not one made in the United States,” says Paul. “Zero.”
The copy room is also a mixed bag. All of the copy paper is American-made, as are the fire alarm and thermostat (provided by the landlord, but conveniently homegrown). But not the Canon copier. “Big copiers, no one makes them in the United States,” says Paul.
The building, fittingly, was once home to a Union Hardware and was built at the end of the 19th century. AAM has chosen to leave many of the original structures, even when strange and jutting, to highlight the glory days when “made in the USA” was a given.
Click on the photo below for a slideshow of American-made equipment and structures in the office: